Clint McKay took three wickets, including a bizarre stumping to dismiss Ravi Bopara, as Australia beat England by five runs in the fifth one-day cricket international on Sunday to win the five-match series 4-1.
Australia made 217-9 in its 50 overs after choosing to bat on a sluggish pitch at the Adelaide Oval and England lost its last wicket at 212 with three balls remaining in a match marking the Australia Day national holiday.
England seemed to be coasting to victory when Joe Root made 55 and Eion Morgan 39 in a 64-run partnership for the foruth wicket that had it 154-4 in the 36th over. But it lost vital wickets quickly in a chaotic run chase and Bopara was left as its last specialist batsman and its last hope of ending the series with a win.
Bopara saw a succession of partners come and go as England stumbled towards a winning total and did everything in his power to marshal the resources of the England tail.
He was on 25 and seemed in command of an anxious situation when McKay, bowling at pace to wicketkeeper Matthew Wade, who was skillfully and courageously standing up to the stumps, beat his outside off. The ball struck Wade’s gloves, dislodged and fell forward onto the stumps just as Bopara lifted his back foot an inch above the ground.
Australia appealed, more in hope than confidence, and the television umpire studied a long series of slow motion replays before deciding that Bopara’s foot had come up just as the bail had been removed. He was out and with him went England’s last chance of victory.
His departure left England’s last pair at the crease, needing nine runs with eight balls remaining. Chris Jordan and James Tredwell reached the last over with eight runs still required and reduced the target with a single and a leg bye before Tredwell was caught by Wade off Shane Watson to end the innings.
McKay finished with 3-36, including the wickets of Bopara, Ben Stokes (0) and Stuart Broad (7). Nathan Coulter-Nile took 3-34 and James Faulkner 2-37 in an outstanding Australian bowling performance.
“After we got the last wicket, that’s when I thought we had it won,” Australia captain Michael Clarke said. “A magnificent performance by the boys with the ball today.
“I thought our batting was disappointing but I guess we had to have that belief we could still win the game. The execution through the powerplay and at the end … the boys did an outstanding job.
“For me it was about trying to find a way to take 10 wickets and the bowlers executed well. They deserve a lot of credit.”
Scoring runs on a holding Adelaide Oval surface required patience and perseverance that only continued…